Members of the House and Senate gathered in the House Chamber this week to get an update on the state of Missouri’s judicial branch. Lawmakers listened to the annual State of the Judiciary Address that was delivered by Atchison County resident and Northwest Missouri’s very own Missouri Supreme Court Chief Justice Zel Fischer!  Judge Fischer has a strong reputation around the Capitol and throughout our state as being a fair and honest man of integrity who sincerely cares for all people of Missouri.    

In his address, Fischer told legislators, “We know our partners in the legislative and executive branches are committed to doing the best job possible to make Missouri better. We are no different. The state of the judiciary is good.” He used his speech to address a variety of topics ranging from the importance of treatment courts to a new rule to benefit military spouses to a rule change that will make pretrial release conditions fairer for low-income defendants.

As he talked about the benefits of treatment courts, Fischer explained to the House and Senate members that it’s not enough for the courts to simply resolve cases. Instead, courts must help change lives by breaking the cycle of crime among nonviolent offenders and make them more productive. Fischer also praised Gov. Parson for his commitment to not build another prison while he is in office.

Fischer said, “When I began practicing law three decades ago, we were all told the proper answer was to be tough on crime. But, as time has proven, being tough on crime is not necessarily being smart on crime. Our national incarceration rates have ballooned – and for many nonviolent offenders, we have failed to address their underlying issues of substance abuse and mental illness. Let’s save our prisons for those we are afraid of, not just mad at.”

Fischer outlined how the courts have created a pathway for military spouses who are licensed attorneys to practice law while they are in Missouri. The new rule went into effect at the beginning of the year to allow lawyers with licenses in good standing in other jurisdictions and whose spouses are active service members stationed in Missouri or a contiguous state to apply for temporary admission to practice law in Missouri. Fischer said. “Allowing these qualified attorneys to share their legal talents with our citizens while they are in our state will honor the sacrifice they make as military spouses and will serve Missourians well.”

In discussing the change to the rules covering pretrial release, Fischer said, “The problem is real. Too many who are arrested cannot afford bail even for low-level offenses and remain in jail awaiting a hearing. Though presumed innocent, they lose their jobs, cannot support their families and are more likely to reoffend.” The rule change will require judges to first consider non-monetary conditions of release and will allow monetary conditions only if they are necessary and only in an amount that doesn’t exceed what is necessary to ensure safety. Fischer said judges must “ensure those accused of crime are fairly treated according to the law, and not their pocket books.”

Judge Fischer continues to make Northwest Missouri proud by the outstanding job he does as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Missouri!

As always, it is a pleasure to represent you!

Representative Allen Andrews, District 1

Missouri State Capitol, Room 406 B

201 West Capitol Avenue

Jefferson City, MO  65101

Telephone: 573-751-9465